Cover Review: Of Hearts & Stars by Edward Dean West

Of Hearts & Stars by Edward Dean West

Purchase Status: Didn't Buy

Price: $3.95

Description (from Amazon): Been reading up on the latest best sellers eh? The usual suspects, huh? That’s cool man, I like familiar things too- I mean if I was drinking only grape juice for the last twenty years of my life, I guess I’d be pretty used to it by then. But if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, something new, something not grape- then give Of Hearts And Stars a read. It’s not about wizards and vampires, I promise.

The Description

Before I comment on the cover art, I wanted to draw attention to the opening paragraph of the description. While the humor is amusing, it fails to do the most important thing a description should do for a book — tell me about the book. While he gives a blurb in the next paragraph, I found I was unable to get past the combination of the cover plus the tone of the description.

To be blunt, I get the distinct feeling the author was talking down at me for the things I like reading — and I like reading about wizards. While I sometimes don't agree with the selection of books that make the bestseller list (George Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice comes to mind) I respect the fact that these books, for whatever reason, entertain people — they make people read.

Insulting the people who either love to read or are just getting started with reading by browsing the bestseller list isn't a way to sell your book to me.

It is a way to ensure I won't click to look at the sample or buy this book, though.

The Art

I'd like to say something about the art here, but most of the cover is white space broken up by a border with a stationary-style header. I haven't quite figured out what the purpose of that shockingly-blue gradient is. At least the stars in the header of this cover make sense and tie in with the cover.

To me, this doesn't even classify as cover art. Is this a romance novel? As science fiction? Did someone exchange spades for stars in a deck of cards and write a book about it? This cover has nothing to tie me to the genre. It has very little substance at all.

There are no characters. There  is nothing mystical to evoke fantasy. There is nothing of the science fiction genre to evoke the sense of science fiction. This cover lacks every design element that normally attracts me to a cover.

It caught my attention for all of the wrong reasons — mainly because of the massive use of white space.

The Font

This is the only thing that might really class as science fiction for me. The font does have that campy, 1980s style used with some cult classics. However, unlike Star Trek, or any Asimov novel I can think of, it lacks the inherent charm of a campy cover.

The font doesn't stand out; it doesn't make up for everything else this cover lacks. The only thing I feel when I look at this font is that someone found a font they liked, stuck it in the middle of the page, added their name to the bottom, and went on to do something more interesting.

I'm not even sure where to begin with improving this cover. There are so many things that could be done better, with a little bit of time, a search through some creative common licensed photographs, and an hour of alone time with photoshop.

Why I didn't buy this book:

Once again, I'm not even sure where to begin, but here is a quick list:

  • Insulting description — tip of the day: Humor is nice. Jabs at people's reading habits while trying to sell your book? No. Just… no.
  • The lack of genre in the cover art.
  • The lack of any real cover art, photography or otherwise
  • The general lack of effort put into the cover — doesn't make me feel confident about the quality of the book hidden beneath the cover.

There's more, but I'm not sure I can bring myself to go on.

Leave a Comment:

21 comments
Heather Dudley says June 5, 2013

I’ll be honest. I went to the page, and read the guy’s self-review, and was a bit horrified. Nothing says “I have no idea what I’m doing” like “I didn’t have a lot of money for a professional editor, what with bills and taxes rocking me like a hurricane, so I reached out to my friends and we pulled off what you see here today.”

Word to the wise, folks: Even if you’re poor as dirt, don’t tell potential customers that, and don’t tell them that no professional has ever touched your “masterpiece.”

Also: Hire Rebecca. She’s the cheap hooker of the editorial world.

Wait… um. I’d better stop before she throws something at me.

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ilyanna says June 5, 2013

I never really realized how much covers influenced purchases! You have some great points here which I never would have considered. Many years ago I was annoyed by several covers that didn’t actually reflect the story inside: wrong gender, wrong colors, wrong animals, wrong weapons. Since I tend to think in images anyway I gave up on covers and instead took to reading the first page. As far as this cover, the blue gradient makes sense to me: it’s a planetary atmosphere giving way to the vacuum of space. the white space even makes sense because the atmosphere is so thin. But who am I to judge? I haven’t read the first page . . .

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Ayanox says June 6, 2013

“I never really realized how much covers influenced purchases!”

Protip: They don’t.

Remember the old adage “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? And this, this right here is a review? I guess- much like a dog wearing a suit -could- be considered a businessman.

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    RJBlain says June 6, 2013

    With millions of books to choose from — literally — covers do very much influence my decisions when I buy a book.

    Don’t judge a book by its cover is true — in some ways. There are many good books hidden behind awful covers. But, with millions of books to choose from, the covers are the gatekeepers that determine whether or not I bother with looking at a sample.

    If a cover doesn’t draw my eye enough to make me look at the description, there’s no chance I’ll read the sample to find out if the book is any good to begin with.

    Perhaps I’m closed minded — I can accept that. When it comes to what I pay hard-earned money for, I think that’s my problem. I’m just sharing my feelings on books I’ve passed on due to their covers and descriptions, as well as on covers I’ve ended up buying as well.

    I have to admit that I’m rather amused you’re offended over my opinion.

    Reply
Ayanox says June 6, 2013

“I have to admit that I’m rather amused you’re offended over my opinion.”

Just confused really. It shows a lack of professionalism that you, as an author, would honestly review books on your blog that you don’t even bother to read. Are you a writer or not? Reading your blog, it seems you understand the process, but at the end of the day your attitude on the whole just suggests a shallow and almost superficial quality to your attitude towards writing. An utter lack of respect for the same craft you make a claim to.

The Eye of God is coming out soon, next month, but what message do you plan on sending out to -your- readers? You’re well within your own right to carry on as you please, and it is your problem, but at one point you will have to realize that you are part of a bigger community. You plan on selling a book worldwide, no? You’ll need an open mind to pull it off, whether you can accept it or not.

Cheers.

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    RJBlain says June 7, 2013

    I review books and I review covers.

    The reason I review covers is very simple: Covers sell books. By looking at what makes me buy a book, and being honest with myself (and with people who follow my blog) I learn more about the process.

    I expect people to look at my covers and determine whether or not to buy my book based on the same exact criteria I am listing out when I look at books and buy them. When I buy a book, I review it. I’m a good chunk of the way through Witches on Parole now.

    It isn’t a lack of respect for the craft. It is an acceptance of the reality of the business side of writing. I approach my book reviews with the same exact honesty as I do cover reviews. I don’t lie to make people feel happy. Of course, that is going to color how some people feel about it.

    I don’t plan on sending a message out to my readers at all. I plan on letting my book sink or swim by the work that’s gone into the cover, the description, and in the interior of the book. If it doesn’t succeed, I didn’t do a good enough job. I sit on my heels, look at why I didn’t do a good enough job, and I try again. Over, and over, and over, until I find a way of writing that makes people want to read my books.

    The blunt truth? I seriously doubt most of my readers will ever come and visit my site at all. And when they do come, they’ll see me exactly as I am — honest, blunt, and direct about my opinions.

    Where was I disrespectful to the craft? I discussed — in detail — why a book’s cover and description didn’t work for me. The reasons why I didn’t buy the book. This is the business of writing, and I’m very, very aware that people will judge my book by its cover, by its description, and even by the first three words of what they read.

    If sharing an opinion on a facet of the publishing industry is disrespectful, the entire concept of review books is as well. Covers are a part of a book. Hiding behind the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t help anyone make better covers — or make books people want to have on their shelves for the beauty of the book as well as the content of the book.

    Covers influence the enjoyment of a book. I find this to be true with me. Petty? Definitely. But, I’m a visual person, and those covers — good and bad — stick with me.

    Reply
Ayanox says June 7, 2013

Best of luck, I hope you can rekindle your passion for writing.

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Linda Horne says June 7, 2013

Whoa! Who the hell is this moron?
Protip: They don’t.
That would be why a company will spend a generous amount on a designer to put a book in a store, and then pay MORE to have it redesigned for different markets. because it doesn’t make a difference. Sometimes, if you want an artist of your OWN choosing, you have to pay for that out of your own contract.
But that doesn’t matter. Because nobody looks at covers when purchasing.
Now, on beyond the ignorance..
As an editor, Rebecca Blain has never treated writers with anything less than respect and tough love. Her grasp of grammatical experience, of character depth, and understanding of how others write as well as herself leads her to suggest changes that can turn a book from “blah” to “sold.” She doesn’t do the work for us. She suggests how we can make the experience better.
She also inspires. I have easily seen her write an average of 3000 to 5000 words in a day, after editing, after blog posts, and after chores. Passion? I don’t think that’s in doubt.
Reviews are tough love. Agree, disagree, or get the hell out of the way. Personal attacks are not welcome here.

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Natasha says June 7, 2013

I really have to go with RJBlain on this one… The first paragraph of the description is insulting. I like to read about wizards. I like to read about vampires. I like to write about both. The cover art makes me flinch. I just want to write a letter on it because that’s what it looks like–stationary. The title and the cover both give me no hint as to what this book is about. As an avid reader, looking at something like that wouldn’t even convince me to turn the book around to read the description (or glance at the paragraphs on Amazon). As writers, aren’t we supposed to convince people to read our work?

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    Elizabeth Whittaker says August 16, 2013

    “The first paragraph of the description is insulting.”

    Came here to +1 this sentiment. I won’t buy a book that someone automatically insults me just by looking at it.

    Reply
MJ Bush says June 14, 2013

In an
article
from the Guardian, it states:
“Authors… would be well advised to spend time and money on making a title look professional, the survey found: self-publishers who received help (paid or unpaid) with story editing, copy editing and proofreading made 13% more than the average; help with cover design upped earnings by a further 34%.”

Covers do matter, and this kind of review is meant to help learn what works and doesn’t.

An unwillingness to learn only reflects on YOU, Ayanox, not on the one trying to impart the information.

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Ayanox says June 15, 2013

MJ, if the review meant to help learn what works and what doesn’t then it is flawed. Covers do not sell books. The link to the article you sent suffers from a lack of perspective. Exactly which self-published authors are being mentioned in it for example? Surely not all of them, so how many were asked and just how many responded? Not that many I’d guess, but I know that you can get out there and do your -own- research! Check this out, found it surfing the net:
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/06/2013/quick-and-dirty-math-how-many-self-published-authors-are-making-a-living/

You can use the same math that is shown in this article to figure an estimate for any given self published author’s royalties on Amazon based off of their ranking and the price of their novel(s)- given that you can establish a sales/ranking trend. Try it. However it’d take forever to get all of the numbers. Half of self published authors not making more than $500? That’s a bit of a stretch.

Also check this out:
http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4344052-notes-from-the-literary-consultancy-s-conference-2013—writing-in-a-dig?type=authorblogpost#rating_14931121

Covers don’t factor in. They are pretty yes, but at the end of the day a nice book cover is what it is: a nice book cover. Thank you for your time, and I hope you’ve learned something today.

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    Starla Huchton says June 16, 2013

    I’m floored. Ayanox is clearly only out for themselves. Why else would they insist something so FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG is true?
    To support the case that the cover to a book is essential, I present the following:

    1. MARK COKER (nobody important, just the founder of SMASHWORDS) says this: “A great cover image makes a promise to the reader. A poor cover image chases potential readers away. Great covers are aspirational. The reader aspires to feel something, and the cover promises that feeling.”

    2. Naomi Blackburn (one of the world’s top reviewers on Goodreads) says this: ““If the author didn’t care enough to dedicate time/effort to their cover, I wonder how much time they put into the book itself.”

    Those are only two examples, as I decided to stop being Ayanox’s personal Google after about three pages of the over 241,000,000 results for “why is a book cover important”.

    A book cover is THE VERY FIRST IMPRESSION A READER WILL HAVE OF YOUR BOOK. In a world where covers are reduced to thumbnails and scrolled through at fast speeds, why would you want to blow any chance you have of attracting a new reader? An author is LUCKY if they get five seconds to entice a reader. The image is what will hook them to read the blurb, and maybe sample pages or reviews. FIVE SECONDS is a generous estimate.

    So when you sit there and purport than a book cover doesn’t matter, I think one of two things:

    1. You are stubbornly ignorant and refuse to believe that *gasp* you might be wrong. Or…

    2. You’re one of those jerks who thinks to “educate” other authors going into this for the first time with REALLY BAD ADVICE in hopes to… what? Boost your own sales? Dash the dreams of others because you’re bitter you haven’t seen that success yourself? I don’t really know what the end game is in this scenario. I’m going to count you in there with predatory vanity presses in the harm that you do to authors by telling them this.

    My advice to this author would be to take this constructive criticism to heart, pull up their big girl panties, and maybe consider, if not paying a designer to create a new cover, at least talk with other self-pub authors or designers about what they could do to create something that might actually sell a book or two.

    Reply
Ayanox says June 16, 2013

Well, you’re mad and full of bitterness towards me Miss Huchton. I didn’t know you were rolling around with access to everyone’s sales reports. If I didn’t know any better I’d say that you’re an exec. for each of the major online book distributors. Otherwise you just threw up a flame post containing nothing but assumptions, opinions, conjecture, and nasty cheap shots.

I never said that any self published authors should not pay to have a cover designed, ask for help, or even take up classes to do their own. What I am saying, and what I’ve cited with links to relevant market research is that covers do not factor into the sale of the books. I’m sorry.

Miss Blaine is entitled to her opinion, and if you look closely you’ll see that has not been debated. Indeed I gave my opinion on her choice to do cover reviews, but in the end it is just something that has to be accepted.

Also what I’ve noticed about each and every one of you who’ve attempted to argue with me is that:

1. You assume that Miss Blaine is claiming the books with covers that she dislikes do not sell. This was never even hinted at by her.

2. You don’t even know. What do I mean? As I mentioned earlier, sales rankings on storefronts like Amazon are nearly a direct representation of a book’s success at any given time. Take one of the other covers reviewed that Miss Blaine did not buy: Animal Nature. It’s #19,601 , which means it moves anywhere from 6-8 copies daily. But it’s a bad book cover, which means it won’t sell right? Of Hearts And Stars is at #18,697. Book covers don’t sell books. If they did, then why are books with beautifully crafted covers idling somewhere in the 600 thousands? In the millions? Get some perspective.

The deal is that these are just book covers that Miss Blaine did not like, and that is a shame, but it’s a natural occurrence. For every person who actually likes these covers there will be another who does not. You can’t please everyone.

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    Elizabeth Whittaker says August 16, 2013

    “For every person who actually likes these covers there will be another who does not. You can’t please everyone.”

    You’re right. There are people that you can and not please. And just as you have the right to your opinion, so does this reviewer. And she has the right to make that known ON HER OWN WEBSITE if she chooses. It’s a critique. That’s what authors and writers do. It’s how people know they are reaching their audience.

    If you can’t handle that, you obviously are not meant to be a writer or even be active in this community.

    Reply
Heather Dudley says June 16, 2013

Ayanox, I have indeed learned something.

I’ve learned that you are convinced you have the knowledge that the rest of the industry lacks. That you are incapable of accepting constructive criticism. That you are combative and insulting.

And I went and read your links. From that first website you linked to support your claim that covers don’t matter, I happened to find this article:

How Important Is eBook Cover Art in 2013?

And I quote:

“It’s key that authors and publishers get their covers right. Cover art is the first thing that a reader sees when browsing a collection digitally and it needs to be thought out in terms of how it looks on a thumbnail in addition to it’s full size. Readers do judge a book by its cover, especially in the digital space,” says Miral Sattar, founder and CEO of BiblioCrunch.

I would say that the founder and CEO of BiblioCrunch ought to have at least a little idea of what they’re about.

I really don’t understand your righteous crusade and insistence that you are “correct.” Considering you’re anonymous and quite a bit of an obnoxious tool, none of us here have any reason to believe you know a thing about what you’re talking about. As far as we know, you could be the author of this book, all upset because someone didn’t like your masterpiece’s mediocre cover.

I certainly hope you’re not, because if you are, you are behaving in the most unprofessional, fashion possible.

KInda like the cover.

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Ayanox says June 16, 2013

Once again you just roll out with the flames Miss Dudley. Finger pointing, assumptions, etc. I have not once insulted you. You’re so far upon your high horse that there is no chance of anyone disagreeing with -you-, and if they do then they’re insulting you. If they disagree with you, then they’re morons. If they do then they’re failures. These are all ideas that you imply through the way you speak. What’s more you refuse to even discuss anything but your own point of view or those of your friends. You ignore or try deflect what is offered and then when you do slip up you shrug it off. You pretend as if you never jumped to conclusions.

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Heather Dudley says June 16, 2013

Oh, and I might add (because RJ lacks a bloody edit button, so I’ll add a new post) that at no point has RJ Blain claimed that covers are the only factor in whether or not a book will sell. Simply that they’re an important one. When you have an entire industry with its guns set to kill, where thousands of would-be authors are competing for the same readers, where failure hangs on a knife’s edge, why on earth wouldn’t you want to give yourself every edge possible? Why settle for 6-8 copies a day, when perhaps a better cover could sell 10-15? Or more?

You care about your work. You don’t go to a job interview in your pajamas. You dress your best.

Dress your novel for success.

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    Ayanox says June 16, 2013

    Okay finally, you’re actually reading what I’m saying to you, and I almost even agree with you, but I do not believe a cover is akin to say wearing a suit to an interview. It’s more like the tie- with certain people or audiences it could be a deal breaker, but it isn’t the case with everyone. As for 10-15 or more sales, reaching that bracket is still a bit removed from the cover. It’s like rims on a car really- I mean some are so very awesome, but there are other features on cars that tend to actually sell them, yes?

    Reply
      Heather Dudley says June 16, 2013

      Ayanox sweetheart, I’ve been reading every word you’ve written here. Just because you haven’t liked the replies doesn’t, in fact, mean that those you don’t like aren’t listening.

      I’ve listened to every sordid word you’ve churned out. You are completely missing the point. Your tie analogy doesn’t work, because your book doesn’t wear a tie; the tie is a small part of the outfit, a novel’s cover is the entire package. If you want to compare something to a tie, perhaps the font choice would qualify. Graphic designers cringe when someone uses Papyrus or Comic Sans; that’s your “tie”. Most people don’t particularly care about font choice specifically.

      You have responded to no points that I’ve made. You seem to seriously lack the ability to disassociate your personal feelings from the comments made. You even repeated something I just said! (I’m not going to repeat myself… I’ll let you figure that out.) In fact, it’s to the point you felt compelled to insult the author who wrote this review by not even implying, but outright stating that she has no passion for writing (a statement that seriously had those of us who know her laughing– because you have no idea.)

      I’m curious about something. Why DO you care about this cover review so much? You seem awfully offended by this particular cover review.

      Is that you under there, Edward?

      Reply
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